A movement mobilizes in Takoma Park
By Helen Lyons
Hundreds gathered at Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park on Dec. 4 for “Takoma Park Mobilization.”
The event, organized by Jennifer Wofford, called for residents to “join others who want to do specific things to support all our neighbors, oppose racism and hate, defend social programs, protect our immigrant neighbors, defend reproductive rights, defend civil liberties and democracy, save our planet, and get organized!”
Takoma Park resident Will Ramsey came ready to get more involved. “I’m concerned about social issues,” Ramsey said. “So much is happening in the country right now. I think that people have been tricked by the election, and I’m concerned that so many people can buy into a leadership that’s based on a lot of lies.”
The auditorium of the elementary school was filled to the brim with people and posters lined the walls proposing working groups in areas, such as immigration, health care, civil liberties and civil rights, environment, and communications.
“My fear is that people are going to have less freedom and less opportunity under this administration,” Ramsey said. He and others crowded into the school to listen to passionate speeches from community members and connect with others who share similar expertise and goals for political activism.
“The point is to organize Takoma Park in a positive way,” explained Sharon Stout, who joined the COOL (Communications/ Outreach/Organizing/Logistics) Committee and helped people sign in at the door, “and to form working groups on various topics that are of interest to people.”
Residents took turns addressing the crowd using a microphone, giving a brief description of their committee ideas and goals and designating a place in the auditorium where those interested could gather and begin planning.
Jennifer Wofford was thrilled to see so many engaged people there. “A couple of the working groups that had just gotten started when we first met have amazing people on them,” Wofford said. “[For example] the health care committee. I’m totally amazed by all these people who are so knowledgeable on health care and passionate about it.”
During the weeks following the kickoff event, more committees took shape and began developing agendas and goals. Each committee has one or two point people to coordinate emails and meetings and rotating facilitators, explained Anita Budhraja, Takoma Park resident and member of the Immigration and Muslim rights committee.
“Since Trump was elected, there were a lot of people who weren’t politicized who are getting politicized and feeling motivated to be engaged citizens and be involved in politics,” Budhraja said. “I’m one of those people who might not call themselves activists, but are ready to act.”
Takoma Park activist Nadine Block wanted “to energize people and create a space where people can form working groups and take on real projects.”
Anyone can join one of 13 committees currently in existence: the economic equity committee, the immigration, sanctuary, Muslim working group, the health care committee, the committee for the women’s march, the breaking bread together: community dinners group, the stand up! Show up! rapid response to hate crimes or racism group, the electoral/constitutional committee, the education & training committee, the subcommittee on diversity, inclusion, bias and anti-racism training, the environmental committee, the civil rights & civil liberties committee], the LGBTQ committee and the communications/outreach/organizing/logistics committee (COOL).
For more general information, visit www.facebook.com/tpmobilization or email takomaparkmobilization@gmail. com.
The next meeting of Takoma Park Mobilization will be Saturday, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. at Piney Branch Elementary School. Gustavo Torres of CASA de Maryland will be one of the speakers at the meeting.
Helen’s resolution for 2017 is to have more fun!
This article appeared in the January 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.